August Burns Red
Found In Far Away Places
August Burns Red have been one of (if not the) best metalcore bands of the past decade. While many metalcore groups have called it quits, especially recently, August Burns Red has continued plugging along. Interestingly, one of the reasons they’ve been so successful and respected is how they continue to push their sound with each album. Detractors could just say they’ve swapped a few breakdowns with odd and random interludes, but ever since Constellations, August Burns Red has put the progressive in progressive metalcore. That said, one of the more defining features of Leveler and (to a lesser extent) Rescue & Restore was the lack of memorable riffs and breakdowns. Sure, Rescue & Restore was a great album, but something was missing, and with just one listen to August Burns Red’s latest, that is made abundantly clear.
August Burns Red hasn’t been this heavy and fun since Messengers and Constellations. The band’s later progressive output gave the albums a denser, more full and filling feeling; however, it was as if August Burns Red forgot what got them here. It’d be like LeBron James working on becoming a three point jump shooter this off-season and driving and passing less. Sure, with practice he’d be a great shooter (and he already is very good), but it’s not what he’s best at.Found In Far Away Places helps remind listeners what August Burns Red is best at: guitar riffs. That’s not to say that this isn’t a great (even fantastic) collection of songs. “Ghosts”, which features a surprisingly chilling guest spot from A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon, is a harrowing and haunting song, before Jeremy’s wonderful vocals kick in. It gives the song a surprising weight that makes one wonder if the band shouldn’t include clean vocals more often.
It’s not quite a perfect record. Those “random” interludes still work their way into a significant number of tracks here, but they do feel more integral to the song’s momentum, instead of just being a “reason” to include a haphazard assortment of atypical instruments in a song. Also the first half of the album is a tad stronger than the front end, which is highly unusual for an August Burns Red album. However, it’s all relative here. Basically every song is a winner here. August Burns Red haven’t reinvented the metalcore wheel they helped shape. Instead, they remembered what made them so enjoyable in the first place and seamlessly integrated progressive song structures into massively heavy and intelligent guitar-work. “Blackwood” feels like an old-school ABR track written by a band who has a keener understanding of melody and dynamics than simply rote songwriting. It’s subtle changes like that one that have made Found In Far Away Places so surprisingly effective. It may not be their best ever, but this is definitely in the conversation. (Nicholas Senior)